What is Boy Scouting?
Boy Scouting is the original program of the Boy Scouts of America which was officially organized in 1910. Boy Scouting in America is directly based on a program conceived of and designed by Lord Robert S.S. Baden-Powell in 1907. Lord Baden-Powell took a diverse group of young men on a camping trip to Brown Sea Island off the English coast in 1907 to test his ideas and theories, and from that experiment, the Scouting movement was born. Almost 100 years later, the mission of the Boy Scouts of America, the aims of the Boy Scout program, and the methods used to achieve those aims have remained the same.
The Mission of the Boy Scouts of America
The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical choices over their lifetime by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.
The Scout Oath
On my honor I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country
and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake, and morally straight.
The Scout Law
A Scout is:
The Scout Motto
The Scout Slogan
Do a Good Turn Daily!
The Aims of Scouting
- Growth in Moral Strength and Character-Helping a boy develop his personal qualities, values, and outlook on life.
- Participating Citizenship- Helping a boy understand his relationship to and obligations to other people, his community, society, and government.
- Development of Physical, Mental, and Emotional Fitness-Helping a boy be healthy, be able to use his mind, have self-control, and a positive self-image.
The Methods of Scouting
- The Ideals-Found in the Scout Oath, Law, Motto, and Slogan. These ideals are reinforced through every aspect of the Scouting program. It is the hope that these Ideals will become a foundation upon which a Scout lives his daily life.
- The Patrol Method-As Baden-Powell said, "The patrol is the character school of the individual." These peer groups help boys practice and develop their leadership skills, learn responsibility, and develop an identity.
- The Outdoors- This is what boys join the program for in the first place. Not only do the outdoors provide fun and excitement, they provide a place for all of the skills, leadership abilities, and attitudes Scouts develop to be put to the test and perfected.
- Advancement-Boys like to be recognized for their accomplishments. The advancement system does this. It also teaches them valuable skills, helps them set and meet challenges, develop leadership, and may even introduce them to a skill or hobby that they can enjoy for the rest of their lives.
- Association with Adults-Adults serve as positive role models and can make a profound difference in the life a boy.
- Personal Growth-Adolescence is a challenging time in a boy's life. Scouting helps boys figure out what their place is in the community, develop their individual outlook on life, and explore their world all in a productive way.
- Leadership Development-Leadership can only be developed by doing it. Scouting provides a number of practical leadership opportunities for boys to practice and develop these skills.
- The Uniform-The uniform helps a Scout develop a sense of identity. Any person who puts on a Scout uniform is first and foremost a Scout, no matter what race, religion, or socio-economic class. The uniform is also a place where Scouts show off their achievements.
Awards and Advancement
The Boy Scout Advancement Program is designed to be a progression of skills and abilities which build upon one another. Scouts start at the beginning with the Scout Rank and work up toward Eagle. Unlike in Cub Scouts, where all a Scout must do to get a requirement signed off is "do their best," in Boy Scouts, the Scout must actually demonstrate that he has acquired a skill and can competently perform it. Scouts learn by doing and progress at their own rate.
These are the very basics. Scouts learn the Oath, Law, Motto, and Slogan, as well as how to tie a square knot, and what the Scout badge represents.
Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class Ranks
Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class ranks teach Scouts foundations skills that they will need throughout their Scout journey. They learn camping, first aid, cooking, and orienteering skills and also participate in service projects, fitness exercises, and much more. Each of these ranks requires a scout to do a bit more than the one before it. These ranks are designed so that a Scout in an active troop can complete them all within his first year of joining.
Star and Life Ranks
After First Class, the Star then Life Ranks turn away from foundation skills toward service, leadership, and more advanced skills. A Scout must hold a leadership position in his unit for a least six months for each rank, must take part in a service project totaling at least six hours for each rank, and must earn a number of "required" and "optional" merit badges for each rank.
Eagle and Eagle Palms
The highest rank in the Boy Scout Program, the Eagle Scout is a great honor. Of every 100 boys who join the program, only three will achieve the Eagle Rank. For this honor, a Scout must earn a total of twenty-one merit badges, twelve of which are required. The Scout must also plan, develop, and give leadership to others in a significant service project for the community. All of this must be completed before a Scout turns eighteen. If a Scout reaches the Eagle Rank before eighteen and wishes to remain active as part of his Troop, he can earn Eagle Palms for earning more merit badges and continuing to serve in a leadership position. These Palms however do not denote a "higher rank of Eagle." Palms simply recognize a boy who has continued to be an active Scout. Eagle is the highest rank of Boy Scouting.
With over 120 different merit badges, Scouts can explore almost any trade, skill, or hobby interest that they have. To earn the Eagle Rank, a Scout must earn at least twenty-one merit badges, twelve of which are considered "required." Merit Badges exist for three important reasons:
- To introduce a Scout to a skill or hobby that they may turn into a career or hobby for the rest of their life.
- To teach a Scout how to contact an approved adult "merit badge counselor," set up a meeting, and meet a goal.
- To have Scouts interact with professionals or skilled amateurs in a field.
There are a great number of other awards that Scouts may earn. For more information on these, go to the Boy Scout page of the National BSA website by clicking here.
What a Scout is able to do is really only limited by his imagination and his drive to succeed. Some of the opportunities that await scouts include:
The Boy Scouts of America operates three National High Adventure Bases. Each offers a unique challenging experience. They are:
- Philmont Scout Ranch-Located in Chimarron, New Mexico, this 200 square mile ranch offers multi-day backcountry backpacking and horse-packing excursions. Scouts can pan for gold, throw tomahawks, ride pack mules, ascend the Tooth of Time, and do much more. Philmont has been described as the greatest experience a Scout can have.
- Florida Sea Base-Located in the Flordia Keys, Scouts have the opportunity here to sail, deep sea fish, scuba dive, snorkel, live on an island, and bask in the Florida sun.
- Northern Tier-Scouts canoe the Boundary Waters of Minnesota. Northern Tier also has an extensive winter camping training program.
National and World Jamborees
Every few years, the Boy Scouts of America hold a National Scout Jamboree. Scouts from across the country come together (often totaling well over 30,000 individuals) to experience fellowship and every aspect of Scouting. The 2010 National Jamboree will be held at Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America.
Just as the National Jamboree brings Scouts from across the United States, the World Jamboree brings Scouts from around the world together to celebrate the Scouting movement. Scouts can join contingents sent from the United States which make their way to the site of the world gathering and see the sites along the way. The next World Scout Jamboree is going to be held in Sweden.
Scouts, especially Eagle Scouts, become eligible for a number of different scholarships to help them through college. This tells us that Scouting is still highly looked upon as a producer of proven leaders.